Rowers concerned while Stuart Ayres insists he has stayed true to his word

THE Nepean River Users Group is accusing him of breaking his promise but when asked by the Star if that was the case, Penrith state MP Stuart Ayres insisted he had stayed true to the O’Farrell government’s initial commitment.

‘‘I’d just say the O’Farrell government was very clear in its commitment of $20 million to provide a safe pedestrian crossing over the Nepean River and we’ve been open and transparent with the public through the process to provide a positive result,’’ he said. ‘‘The community expects us to get the best possible outcome so if we can build something attractive that draws people to the river, from inside Penrith and outside, then that’s what we’d like to do but we’re very much governed by that $20 million envelope.’’

While the allocated funding for the project has made it difficult to build a bridge without pillars in the water, Mr Ayres said depending on its final location any pillars would be placed either as far apart as possible or in conjunction with the pillars on the Victoria Bridge to avoid affecting the rowers and disrupting the rowing courses on the river.

He said he hoped to have a preferred design concept by the end of the year and that construction would begin in the first quarter of 2014.

THE ROWERS

Row, row, row your boat

Swiftly down the stream

Until you see a pylon there

Drop your oars and scream.

NEPEAN Rowing Club captain Neil Holmes said building a new bridge would interfere with three rowing courses on the Nepean.

Affected would be Australia’s only 5-kilometres time-trial course often used by the AIS and as part of selection processes for world championships and the Olympics, the international course which was used as a major course until the Sydney International Regatta Centre opened and the club’s course.

‘‘I don’t see anything in their papers that shows any consideration for the hundreds of rowers and kayakers on the water every day of the week,’’ he said.

Also of concern to Mr Holmes is the difficulty the new bridge will cause Paralympic rowers and kayakers and the increased parking congestion from walkers and cyclers wanting to use it.

‘‘No one has been given a real opportunity to look at any other alternatives other than the three bridges on the same spot causing the same problems,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s no option for you to say you don’t like the bridges, there’s only the option to say which one you like.’’

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